Welcome to Paradise! Now, please wash your hands



Laura Richardson is the Editor of Florida Weekly Key West Edition. Kevin Assam is a profiler and local correspondent. The two converse on a weekly and bi-weekly basis. Their conversation has been lightly edited.

Kevin: Hi Laura. Let’s step in the big topic: coronavirus. Do you feel a little triumphant that your book club recently picked the fantastic postapocalyptic novel “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel?

Laura: -Considering we read “Station Eleven” about a year ago, I’d say our pick was oddly prescient. Maybe a little too on the nose? If — and I don’t think this is remotely a possibility, but let’s play a game — we do face the end of days, would you join my Traveling Symphony?

Kevin: You’re a decent actor and singer from the newspaper clippings and photos I’ve seen. But how are your hunting and repair skills? I would be willing to sacrifice your improv chops for food and shelter savviness in the end times.



Laura: I may not look tough, but I know my way around a toolbox. And you’re pretty tiny. I think I could strap you to my back if we needed to make a run for the hills. What do you bring to the end-of-times arsenal we’re building?

Kevin: Remember Katniss and Rue from “The Hunger Games”? I’m sort of like a combination of the two, but with questionable hand-eye coordination and a resistance to all green edible things. I

COTTONBRO will say that I reread “Station Eleven” last year after contracting a major icky during Fantasy Fest and came close to custom designing a leather face mask I would wear around town. I was ahead of the times. What do you think about the conspiracy theory that a lot of Key West residents already had the novel coronavirus last fall, when it seemed like half the island was bedridden?

Laura: I’ve got us covered on the hand-eye coordination (thank you, years of softball). You can have all the canned beans when our diets devolve to canned food and foraged greens. Only you could rock a designer face mask — will it be bedazzled? Covered in your signature brooches, which I hear are making a major comeback, by the way. If we go by conspiracy theories, I’d say Key West has been ground zero for a million coronavirus esque pandemics since we became a Fantasy Fest/Spring Break hotspot. But since there have been no confirmed cases yet in Monroe County, how do you think we’ve managed to escape? Is it the Grotto at St. Mary’s keeping us safe?

Kevin: Prayers are only going to work if those hands are squeaky clean. Perhaps our constant exposure to a mishmash of tourist ickies intensified our immunity? Or all the chemicals from our year-round interaction with glitter and dingy plastic beads proved revitalizing. Maybe we’re even just super good about washing our hands? Kidding! That’s not one of our strengths. It’s appalling how few men I see washing their hands in restaurant restrooms. It’ll become clear very quickly if we’ve been underreporting cases. Florida is not good at keeping a lid on those sorts of things very long.

Laura: Truthfully, I am shocked that we still haven’t seen a positive test in Monroe County. Do you think people really are isolating? I’ve been social distancing since Sunday so, my frame of reference is completely skewed.

Kevin: Most people are definitely cutting back on their physical interactions, but are still venturing out solo or in smaller groups. Key Westers are just not accustomed to staying home. It’s surreal for them to miss a sunset or two. What did you make of the restaurants and bars closing — and those that chose to stay open a bit longer?

Laura: This is going to sound alarmist, but I’m 100% supportive of the establishments that have moved to to-go and delivery services only. Perhaps it’s a symptom of media overconsumption. The reality is that no one is really aware of how pervasive Lady Corona is just yet. Why risk it? What say you? Am I losing it?

Kevin: That was inevitable. And any restaurant or bar owner paying attention to the other states handling the pandemic should have seen this decision coming. I’m curious if anyone even bothers with curbside pickup depending on how extreme things get. No word on Dion’s as yet! I am however looking forward to the amazing Italian at the new Bruschetta Cuisina on Fitzpatrick Lane. It deserved a review, but it looks like we’ll be adjusting our weekly coverage for the time being. For now, we hold our breath till further news, gain a few pounds from good takeout, and please, wash our hands!

Stay tuned for more irreverent (and maybe not so irreverent) takes on current events from where we sit at the end of U.S. 1. ¦

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *